'Third World' power outages plague US homes, firms

Nov 06, 2011 by Fabienne Faur
File photo shows an electric transformer pole that was blown over by Hurricane Irene in Montauk, New York on August 28. Power outages affected 17.5 million people in all 50 states last year.

The United States is the biggest economy in the world, but all it takes to put the lights out here is some snow, or wind, or rain, or squirrels, even a prison break-out.

Power outages -- like one in late October that left two million people without electricity in the northeast, in some cases for several days, after an unseasonably early snowstorm -- are a fact of life for many Americans.

"Is Connecticut a Third World country?" asked a contributor to Newton Patch, a community website in neighboring Massachusetts, frustrated by the indefinite loss of electricity.

"No power, no water... Please know people are suffering and it is hard to understand when this is the United States, why we cannot solve this problem in a timely manner."

For American homes, losing electricity is more than being in the dark.

Heating -- or air conditioning in the summer -- stops. Food thaws in freezers. Schools are closed. Even the roads become hazardous when the traffic lights go on the blink.

In the worst cases, families must sleep in generator-powered evacuation centers and workers temporarily lose their jobs.

Many Americans say they've had enough, sometimes with a sense of humor.

"Recalling my 'Little House on the Prairie' emergency survival training, I immediately cleared out the fridge and freezer and buried the food in coolers out back in the snow," wrote syndicated columnist Tracy Beckerman on her Lost in Suburbia blog.

"Then we moved a ton of firewood into the house, gathered up candles, flashlights, and extra blankets and relocated everyone into the living room where we would hunker down in front of the fireplace until we got power back."

She added: "Yes, I am one of the many, the proud, the powerless."

Snowstorms are frequent in Connecticut, but rarely in October, said Al Lara, spokesman for Connecticut Light and Power, half of whose 1.2 million customers were still without power on Tuesday, two days after a storm hit.

"Usually we have this kind of bad weather in the winter, after the leaves have fallen," he told AFP.

"But in Saturday's storm, we received as much as two feet (61 centimeters) of snow and a lot of heavy rain and ice on top of trees that were completely full of green leaves," he said.

Such trees are prone to fall on , which in much of the are not buried under ground, but strung above ground along wooden poles, exposed to the elements.

On such power lines, ice can accumulate. Winds can break off branches. Rain can weaken the ground in which the poles are planted. Lightning strikes. Cars go off the road and hit a utility pole.

In an annual report, Eaton, a multinational power management company, said power outages affected 17.5 million people in all 50 states last year when there were 3,419 separate , up from 2,840 the year before.

The average blackout lasted four hours, but together all the outages added up to 156 days. California had the most incidents by far (508) followed by New York (176) and Texas (145).

Bad weather was responsible for one in four outages, and faulty equipment or human error caused one in eight incidents.

Others were blamed on motor vehicle accidents, vandalism, a runway foil-coated Barbie balloon, and a veritable menagerie of animals -- most often squirrels, two beavers, four snakes and a bobcat that climbed a utility pole in Oklahoma and touched two power lines simultaneously.

"The bobcat did not survive," the Eaton report said.

Then there was the inmate in Tennessee: "A Carter County jail prisoner caused a power outage during an alleged escape attempt when he was crawling in a space above the ceiling and touched some wires," the report said.

Writing on the website of the USA Today newspaper, a contributor named Sharpteeth asked: "These outages are annual, different places and sometimes similar places. How about moving the utility grid underground?"

Blogging from New Jersey, Joseph Weber said: "I have never understood why the power utilities are not required, over time, to put their wires underground."

He added: "If they devoted 5 percent of their construction budget to this end each year, we would be rid of this problem. We know it can be done."

But at Connecticut Light and , Lara said it would be too expensive to bury all powerlines. "They may fail as frequently but when they do fail, they take much longer to restore."

"It is more difficult to detect where the fault is. With a line (overhead), you can simply look up and see."

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User comments : 57

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zweistein_2
5 / 5 (8) Nov 06, 2011
"It is more difficult to detect where the fault is. With a line (overhead), you can simply look up and see."
Buried power lines are a better solution as the lines are better protected from wind, animals, people, trees, cars etc...
If they fail you can easily identify the place of failure and pull the cable out and fix it.
Newly built neighborhoods should have mandatory underground powerlines.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2011
One of the problems in New England is their opposition to suburban modernization: widening roads, increasing multiple housing units,...
Norezar
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
A couple years ago the power was out in my area for two weeks, in the dead of winter. The power companies' excuse? "We ran out of lightpoles."

This "third world" power infrastructure is inexcuseable.
TheQuietMan
5 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
My power is underground. I love it! I can still get lightning strikes, but they tend to be much further away (and less damaging). Cars can still hit the transformer boxes, but the power company has portable trailers that can temporarily replace these boxes.

It still didn't help with rolling blackouts though.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2011
A couple years ago the power was out in my area for two weeks, in the dead of winter. The power companies' excuse? "We ran out of lightpoles."

This "third world" power infrastructure is inexcuseable.

All utility companies are regulated by the state govts. I don't here too many complaints about that regulation or any motivation to throw out the liberal bums.
f33dback
5 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2011
This reminds me of a NYT article in which people were complaining about swarms of mosquitos, one parent stated "My child is bitten every night why won't the government do anything about this?" to which (if I could) I would add why aren't you doing anything? Netting, spraying, and a variety of other insect "management" tools are available.

In the power context get a generator or learn to do with less, this country is collapsing and the sooner you stop waiting for someone else to take charge the better off you are.
Physmet
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 06, 2011
"'Is Connecticut a Third World country?' asked a contributor to Newton Patch"

Perhaps they should try living in a third world country. Lack of power is a major thing for us, but how spoiled is he that he equates that with being a third world country.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (8) Nov 06, 2011
In the power context get a generator or learn to do with less, this country is collapsing and the sooner you stop waiting for someone else to take charge the better off you are.

We shouldn't demand a tax refund for the lousy govt regulatory 'services' or the property easements every landowner must grant for utilities?
Or demand the govt remove restrictions on our ability to be energy independent?
MediocreSmoke
3 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
All utility companies are regulated by the state govts. I don't here too many complaints about that regulation or any motivation to throw out the liberal bums.


What do you think regulate means? More regulation is the answer to this, not less. Also, commenting on your "demand a tax refund" comment, I doubt you make enough money to pay a significant amount of federal income tax, and the percentage of the small amount of money you paid that went to these "lousy govt regulatory 'services'" is probably less than one tenth of one percent, so you wouldn't really get anything back.
They should make you take classes before they allow people to vote.
Newbeak
4 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
Well,if this doesn't bring people around to my point of view,nothing will.The ultimate answer is distributed power generation,something along the lines of the Bloom system.See: http://en.wikiped...uel_cell
Nerdyguy
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2011
"'Third World' power outages plague US homes, firms"

Much ado about nothing. Yes, storms cause power outages. Don't like it - get a generator. Four hours without power in the course of a year? Hardly worth writing an article about - unless you have some sort of political point to make perhaps.
Nerdyguy
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 06, 2011
More regulation is the answer to this


You have stated that "more regulation is the answer". Yet, you have failed to show any evidence for this. How, precisely, would more regulations help?

How would more regulation prevent power outages due to:

motor vehicle accidents, vandalism, a runway foil-coated Barbie balloon, and a veritable menagerie of animals -- most often squirrels, two beavers, four snakes and a bobcat
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (7) Nov 06, 2011
More regulation is the answer to this, not less.

How will adding more laws make anything better?
Roj
5 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2011
Unfortunately underground-conductor ampacity is governed by insulation-temperature limits, requiring twice the wire to carry the current of overhead wires.

Wires in raceways must use insulation, easily damaged by overcurrent, faults, water saturation, and require several times the replacement frequency of suspended bare wire in open air.

The only distribution systems locked underground are superconductors with cryogenic-quenching systems that won't fit on poles.

Stable revenue growth and low operating costs made utilities the darlings of Wallstreet. Increasing cost for customers is not required. Customers can wait, since they never leave.

Customers subject to unreliable services usually have backup systems, gas or hydro generators, solar or wind energy storage, fuel cell or sterling-engine systems.

Roger R. Owner/Operator
NoFixNoPay.info
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2011
UK runs its suburban power underground with no problems beyond dozy back-hoe (='JCB') drivers...

One advantage, however, is we have 220 Volt lines, which carry half the current for the same power...
Nerdyguy
4 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
"But at Connecticut Light and Power, Lara said it would be too expensive to bury all powerlines. "They may fail as frequently but when they do fail, they take much longer to restore.""

This is a bit of deception. They know full well that moving it underground won't result in the same frequency of failures. But it's true it would take longer to restore - if it's poorly designed.

I've lived in areas that have power above-ground, and those that string it up on poles. There is NO comparison. Underground is best all-around. But, it's expensive and that's the reason why it's not done more.
JohnSilverton
4.5 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
Isn't it about time we put our utilities UNDERGROUND, where they cannot be affected by severe weather, natural disasters, and terrorists? Here's a worthy project for our supposed representitives on Capitol Hill: Quit using the poor, the elderly and the infirmed/disabled as your personal piggy bank; and start paying your fair share of taxes! Put the revenue towards rebuilding America's infrastructure. Anyone remember the term: Commonwealth? Not so common anymore, is it? We instituted the US Government to watch over the interests of the people. Now the only 'people' who benefit are the top 1% of the population; the extraordinarily wealthy. Time to remember who worked their butts off to make you wealthy. Time to remember your childhood training: share fairly...
JohnSilverton
5 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2011
...this country is collapsing and the sooner you stop waiting for someone else to take charge the better off you are...


I agree fully with what you say. We must remember that our Founding Fathers and the original Colonists did not have electricity, indoor plumbing, or any number of other 'amenities' that we now take for granted. And they founded this contry on sweat and creative innovation. It is, indeed, time for Americans to take off the white gloves, put on overalls and get to work fixing our mutual problems, instead of complaining about them. Hard work made this country; and only hard work will fix it.
JohnSilverton
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2011
"It is more difficult to detect where the fault is. With a line (overhead), you can simply look up and see."
Buried power lines are a better solution as the lines are better protected from wind, animals, people, trees, cars etc...
If they fail you can easily identify the place of failure and pull the cable out and fix it.
Newly built neighborhoods should have mandatory underground powerlines.


And there is the alternative; if everybody were to produce their own power, there wouldn't have to be an infrastructure. In Colonial days, everybody had to be self sufficient. We need to go back to those days. Too many of us have become soft on having somebody else provide us with basic necessities. We need to go back to being a self sufficient society, wherein everybody takes care of thier own needs.
I know, someone will tell me that can't be done in a society with such a large population... and, maybe that is the underlying problem; too many humans for the planet to sustain. *sigh*
blue7053
5 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
System crashed in the Southwest; Yuma, the city of snowbirds, was dark; I ran a cord out to my RV; as I looked around the city, I had the only light in sight in any direction.

How incompetent can you get?
Humpty
1.6 / 5 (7) Nov 06, 2011
@ John Silverton - not another fucking American with their "terrorists" bullshit.

Up your medication - you starting to talk shit again.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
@ John Silverton - not another fucking American with their "terrorists" bullshit.

Up your medication - you starting to talk shit again.


Thanks for your comments. It's good to see reasonable discourse on such an important topic.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2011
Most of our power-lines are underground. Very rarely a blackout of 1 hour but i think it had nothing to do with the power-lines.
TS1
5 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
To correct some comments made above:

1. comparing power outages with mosquito control is immature. If you do not understand why, ask someone older than yourself.

2. a power generator is mainly practical for people who live in their own home, or in any case a separate house. Here in Massachusetts and the surrounding states we have millions of people living in apartment complexes and townhouses in which running a power generator is not practical or even allowed.

3. the most recent power outages here in northeastern US were not just for "4 hours". I work at the HQ of a large enterprise in Massachusetts and had several colleagues who were without power between 3-5 days.
TS1
3 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2011
In fact I have also worked in northern Europe (Netherlands and a couple of the Scandinavian countries), where the sort of weather we recently had here in NE US is more commonplace during winter season. Even though the event during the last two weeks was here called a "snow storm" it was more akin the sort of snowy weather experienced in those countries during winter.

Funnily, however, northern Europe does not suffer from power outages because of the weather. A system that I have meant to look into is something a Finnish guy told me back in early 90's that they have in that country. He explained that the power grid is setup as a network that, if some node breaks down, routes the power through an alternate path (just like the Internet does with data packets).

Personally I still think that fully distributed power is the best, like the Bloom Box or that Rossi device, if it ever gets sold here in USA. Not sure how practical these will be for people not living in their own houses, however.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2011
Distributed power in the US is challenge because people fight to keep generators out of their neighborhoods. A company wanted to build a natural gas backup/supplemental generator in Billerica, MA. The residents fought it vigorously.
The problem in New England is it was settled long before central utilities so many still have septic tanks and burn diesel fuel for heat. Few towns are willing to modernize with natural gas pipelines or modern sewer system. Can't say I blame the residents too much as property taxes are exorbitant as it is.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2011
"This "third world" power infrastructure is inexcuseable." - Norezar

It's what you get when you privatize electric power generation and distribution.

You see, the businessmen who now run America's power companies increase profits by reducing parts inventory, and cutting corners like refusing to do preventative maintenance and adopting a "maintenance upon failure" policy.

Doing these things brings higher money efficiency to the distribution of power. But as you now see, it reduced reliability.

It doesn't really matter though since you have no choice as to who delivers your electric power and are a captive audience.

Otherwise known in the Business World as a "SUCKER".

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
"Distributed power in the US is challenge because people fight to keep generators out of their neighborhoods." - RyggTard

People don't like living beside Jet engines that run 24/7.

In RyggTard's Libertarian Paradise, once one starts deafening the neighborhood, the neighbors could always sell their homes at a dramatically reduced price and leave the area.

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
"... a Finnish guy told me back in early 90's that they have in that country. He explained that the power grid is setup as a network that, if some node breaks down, routes the power through an alternate path (just like the Internet does with data packets)." - TS1

Yes. Such systems were required by Regulation by the Finnish Government.

The interconnects increase the cost of power distribution but greatly increase the reliability since there is significantly fewer sources of single point failure.

In the U.S. where grubbing for nickels and dimes (Money efficiency) is valued more than reliability you necessarily have lower levels of reliability, but at a greater profit for the power distribution companies.

America's system is what they were sold by Pro-Privatization - destroy the gubderment types (Libertarians) in the 1970's 80's and 90's.

The Stupid American public fell for the Libertarian Propaganda hook line and sinker, and are now suffering the completely predictable result.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
"I work at the HQ of a large enterprise in Massachusetts and had several colleagues who were without power between 3-5 days." - TS1

I mentioned just that on the Washington Times (Moonie Times) website just last week, and the Conservatives there called me a liar.

You see, no facts are permitted to illustrate the disaster that has resulted from America's privatization of it's power production and distribution system.

Privatization must be good for America because it is good for those who own the power lines.

Any other reality would contradict the Conservative/Libertarian ideology that promoted the privatization - Through Lies of course.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 06, 2011
"How incompetent can you get?" - Blu7053

Oh come on man. It snowed. The wires fell down and because they cut their maintenance budget they no longer have the crew or the parts to put them back up again in a timely manner.

Privatization has been good for you.

Just keep telling yourself that. Certainly the Conservative/Libertarian's would have you believe it.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
"In Colonial days, everybody had to be self sufficient." - John Silverson

Yup. Just get yourself a horse for transportation, use candles for light, and dig a fire pit in the middle of your basement floor.

That is the problem with American Wimps these days. No self sufficiency.

Be a man. Live like the founding fathers intended - like they did in 1776.

Conservatives are right. America needs to get back to it's roots and the good old days that the founding fathers in-visioned.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2011
You Filthy Communist Pig.

"It is, indeed, time for Americans to take off the white gloves, put on overalls and get to work fixing our mutual problems..." - John Silverton

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 07, 2011
"How will adding more laws make anything better?" - RyggTard

Well, you see.. It is plainly evident to everyone except those of the Libertarian/Randite ideology that deregulation of the U.S. power generation and distribution system has been a disaster in terms of distribution reliability and production capacity.

I can't think of a single Libertarian/Randite policy that hasn't greatly damaged the American nation from free trade to the Conservative history of Borrowing and spending America into the poor house.

Why people of your ideology manage to exist is unfathomable to me.

In any rationally governed nation you and those of your treasonous political persuasion would have been put against a wall and shot decades ago.

But the American people just aren't that bright.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2011
"How would more regulation prevent power outages due to:" - Nerdguy

By requiring by law that all sources of power have multiple paths to the consumer and that those alternate paths have sufficient carrying capacity that if one path goes down, the others can take up the additional load without tripping off a breaker.

You aren't very bright are you Nerdguy?

You should stop calling yourself a "Nerd". You are unworthy of the title.

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 07, 2011
"We shouldn't demand a tax refund for the lousy govt regulatory 'services'" - RyggTard

The implication from your statement for stronger and better regulation is clear even though you aren't honest enough to admit it.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2011
"Much ado about nothing. Yes, storms cause power outages. Don't like it - get a generator." - NerdGuy

Ya. Libertarians tell the citizens of Somalia the same thing.
Cave_Man
1 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2011
A couple years ago the power was out in my area for two weeks, in the dead of winter. The power companies' excuse? "We ran out of lightpoles."

This "third world" power infrastructure is inexcuseable.


Yeah because we are superior to those third world troglodytes, we deserve everything right now and forever.

God gave us coal to burn for energy, its our right as god's chosen people. It was His will that made us find this inexhaustible resources crafted by his almighty will. Those who don't have coal and natural gas to burn are not gods chosen people and they are doomed to suffer because that is what god wants.

"...and God said, LET THERE BE WANTON RAPING AND PILLAGING OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF MY WORLD, LET AMERICANS CO-OPT MY DIVINE PLANS TO LET THIS COAL AND GAS REST IN PEACE AND LET THEM THROW BABY TANTRUMS WHEN THEY CANT WATCH TV AND MICROWAVE THEIR POPCORN WHILE THE FORSAKEN LESSER PEOPLE STARVE TO DEATH AND SUFFER FROM PLAGUE"

So be it.
Cave_Man
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2011
OMG VD 10 posts IN A ROW. You truly are a VD, and a persistent one at that. I feel like I should go to the clinic after coming in contact with all of that.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2011
it is hard to understand when this is the United States, why we cannot solve this problem in a timely manner

Is this so hard? In a society that worships capitalism (where everything is pared down to the bare bones so that maximum profit can be made for some). If this is 'hard to understand' then maybe some education might be in order.
All utility companies are regulated by the state govts.

Who make lagislature based on what lobby groups tell them. See the problem?

They should make you take classes before they allow people to vote.

They do. It's called highschool. But 'taking classes' seems not to equate to 'learning anything'.

Isn't it about time we put our utilities UNDERGROUND, where they cannot be affected by severe weather, natural disasters, and terrorists?

Earthquakes? And how is a below ground linesafe from terrorists?
Other than that: I agree. Below ground power lines are much preferrable for all other reasons (also aesthetically more pleasing).
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2011
I know, someone will tell me that can't be done in a society with such a large population...

I think you can see that for yourself. How are the vast numbers of pople living in cities supposed to be self sufficient (power, food, ...)? Nuclear reactor in the closet? The rest of the appartment taken over by hydroponics?

In 2011 about 250 million Americans lived in or aronud urban areas (which basically means in environs with not sufficient space for self sufficiency in all areas)

Most of our power-lines are underground.

Most ours are above ground (germany). I can't even remember the last time we had a power out. Must have been a decade or more ago.

A little redundancy and spare capacity go a long way to securing comfort - even in severe weather.

Nerdyguy
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2011
The most ludicrous amount of outrage expressed over a few days without power. Absolutely comical. I've camped in a tent in worse conditions. All the whiners on here really need to get over themselves.

Bottom line, this is an extremely rare event, we have very sufficient power in the U.S.

Could it be upgraded and made to be more efficient? Yes.

Is it Third World, End-of-the-World, or anything even remotely similar? No.
Nerdyguy
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2011
OMG VD 10 posts IN A ROW. You truly are a VD, and a persistent one at that. I feel like I should go to the clinic after coming in contact with all of that.


Yes, he's like a plague of nastiness, wrapped in a virus of ignorance, surrounded by the moist protection of mucus coating called "inferiority complex". And he considers himself to be one of the elite. What a freakin' joke.
Hengine
1 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2011
A country really is no better than the 3rd world if it cannot support its own infrastructure. We should be harsh and respond negatively to anything that threatens stability and security of the core of our civilisation i.e food, water, shelter, communications, power
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 07, 2011
"Bottom line, this is an extremely rare event, we have very sufficient power in the U.S." - NerdGuy

These "Extremely Rare" events seem to be happening more and more frequently in America. Now with a frequency of several times a year.

Newbeak
not rated yet Nov 07, 2011
Distributed power in the US is challenge because people fight to keep generators out of their neighborhoods. A company wanted to build a natural gas backup/supplemental generator in Billerica, MA. The residents fought it vigorously.
The problem in New England is it was settled long before central utilities so many still have septic tanks and burn diesel fuel for heat. Few towns are willing to modernize with natural gas pipelines or modern sewer system. Can't say I blame the residents too much as property taxes are exorbitant as it is.

The distributed power setup I'm thinking of would replace your furnace in your basement,and run off the natural gas that fed your old furnace,assuming you had a gas line.The neighbors wouldn't have clue what your power source was.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 08, 2011
Distributed power in the US is challenge because people fight to keep generators out of their neighborhoods. A company wanted to build a natural gas backup/supplemental generator in Billerica, MA. The residents fought it vigorously.
The problem in New England is it was settled long before central utilities so many still have septic tanks and burn diesel fuel for heat. Few towns are willing to modernize with natural gas pipelines or modern sewer system. Can't say I blame the residents too much as property taxes are exorbitant as it is.

The distributed power setup I'm thinking of would replace your furnace in your basement,and run off the natural gas that fed your old furnace,assuming you had a gas line.The neighbors wouldn't have clue what your power source was.


Perhaps you could clarify. Assuming it's running off the natural gas line at your house, how would it be any different than the existing system?
Newbeak
not rated yet Nov 08, 2011
Perhaps you could clarify. Assuming it's running off the natural gas line at your house, how would it be any different than the existing system?

I never have heard of a failure in natural gas lines,at least in my personal experience.I know it does happen,but compared to grid power outages,it is almost non-existent.I was talking about systems like this company manufactures: http://www.freewa...WarmPlus
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2011
Perhaps you could clarify. Assuming it's running off the natural gas line at your house, how would it be any different than the existing system?

I never have heard of a failure in natural gas lines,at least in my personal experience.I know it does happen,but compared to grid power outages,it is almost non-existent.I was talking about systems like this company manufactures: http://www.freewa...WarmPlus


Yeah, that seems like a good idea. Because, the problem with natural gas in a power outage (normally) would be the fact that other components need electricity, so you're still out of luck even if your furnace is gas-fired.
Newbeak
not rated yet Nov 09, 2011
Yeah, that seems like a good idea. Because, the problem with natural gas in a power outage (normally) would be the fact that other components need electricity, so you're still out of luck even if your furnace is gas-fired.

You are quite right that in a power failure,a regular furnace shuts down,and where I live,it gets very cold in winter,-30,and an extended power outage can really cool down your home,especially if it is not super-insulated.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2011
Honda sells a natural gas electric generator for the home that can be used for air conditioning in the summer and, of course, heat water.
It does depend upon a supply of natural gas.
And, you can have a backup generator plumbed into your natural gas line.
Can those folks in NE use their fuel oil to run a diesel generator without breaking some tax laws?
Newbeak
not rated yet Nov 09, 2011
Or just do what these folks did: http://green.blog...nerator/
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Nov 10, 2011
"...the problem with natural gas in a power outage (normally) would be the fact that other components need electricity" - NerdGuy

I have no such problem with my furnace. It doesn't need any electric power at all. Power failures are not an issue, but of course, in my Socialist nation I haven't seen a significant power failure in decades.

I do run a couple of UPS's just in case of small interruptions and brown outs though. In a pinch they will also provide lighting for 3 to 4 days if needed.

With the battery on my lawnmower that can be extended to a week if needed.
Newbeak
not rated yet Nov 11, 2011
I do run a couple of UPS's just in case of small interruptions and brown outs though. In a pinch they will also provide lighting for 3 to 4 days if needed.

I also have a UPS for my desktop.I was wondering if it would make sense to have a UPS for one's entire home,and how much such a system would cost? I guess it would depend on the duration of coverage one wanted.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2011
I was wondering if it would make sense to have a UPS for one's entire home,and how much such a system would cost? I guess it would depend on the duration of coverage one wanted.


$2-$10K from a few diff. vendors. Seems like it would be easier to go with a gen though.

Lowe's (among others) has a whole series of whole-house generators under $10,000. Quite a lot under $5,000. As you said, it just depends on how much coverage you want. They're prety sweet. Here's what $3K will buy you:

10000 Watts (LP)/9000 Watts (NG) Liquid Propane Or Natural Gas Standby Generator

-Automatic, hands-free backup power supply for home or business
-Kicks in within ten seconds of determining power loss so your life won't miss a beat
-TruePower technology provides clean, smooth operation of sensitive electronics and appliances
-Prepackaged with a pre-wired 200 amp, service rated nexus smart switch
-Quiet-test mode for a weekly self test that's quieter than other brands
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Nov 12, 2011
"I also have a UPS for my desktop.I was wondering if it would make sense to have a UPS for one's entire home." - Newbeak

You can get them. But the cost isn't worth it. You will need several thousand dollars in batteries and they will only give you a day or so of standby power.

It is better just to have a few alternate sources of power, cooking, etc.

I keep a container rubbing alcohol around for cleaning. In a pinch I can use it to cook a meal or two. Boils some water, etc.

These UPS systems can provide me with several evenings worth of electric power for lighting so I don't have to have a house full of candles.

I have a couple of crank flashlights, and a crank radio to stay in touch with the outside world.

The furnace runs without power.

One advantage of going with a large battery system though is that it is half of the way to going solar.

In general however, it makes sense to cover just the "essentials" and a couple luxuries, and then just live with the inconvenience. Cont
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Nov 12, 2011
With regard to solar panels, 10 to 20, panels with an 85 watt capacity would easily keep you up and running in the middle of the winter, excluding electric power for water heating and cooking.